In a setback for medical aspirants in the country, the Centre has rolled back its decision to conduct the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) online and twice a year from 2019. NEET 2019 will continue to be a paper and pen exam and will be conducted on May 5, 2019, the HRD ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.
"The change in the NEET exam pattern (as against the statement made on July 7), which will now be a single exam in pen-and-paper mode and in the same number of languages as has been conducted last year, is on the request of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, who wanted the same pattern followed last year to be maintained," read the statement.
Last month, HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar had announced that the newly-formed NTA would conduct the NEET, along with the Joint Entrance Examination-Main (JEE-Mains) for admission to engineering colleges, twice a year. However, on August 10, The Indian Express had reported that Javadekar's public announcement on NEET was made “without formal consultation”.
He had also announced that all exams conducted by National Testing Agency (NTA) would be computer-based. The Health Ministry then wrote to the HRD Ministry voicing its concerns.
However, JEE Mains for aspiring engineers will be conducted online and twice a year in 2019, as announced earlier, the HRD ministry stated in its press statement. JEE Mains I will be held between January 6-January 20 in 2019, while JEE Mains II will be held between April 6-April 20 next year. It has been informed that the National Testing Agency (NTA), created to conduct entrance examinations for higher education, will set up test practice centres (TPCs) across India to train the students from rural areas in online tests. About 2,697 schools/engineering colleges with computer centres will be made available on every Saturday and Sunday from September 1. Students will be able to use the facility free of charge.
The move to conduct NEET twice a year from 2019 was considered as a welcome change for students. Two NEET exams a year was likely to benefit the students who have to rush through their preparations during April-May after appearing for board examinations in March-April. Most importantly, it will give them an additional opportunity for the students to appear for the exams without wasting a whole year.